The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on June 25, 2006 · Page 17
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 17

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SUNDAY, JUNE 25,2006 SPORTS THE HAYS DAILY NEWS B5 Federer again odds on favorite at Wimbledon By STEVEN WINE ASSOCIATED PRESS WIMBLEDON, England — It has become a Wimbledon tradition, like bad bounces, overnight queues and occasional sunshine. At l p.m. on the tournament's first day Roger Pederer walks onto the Centre Court lawn and begins defending his title. Rarely has there been a better tennis match than Federer and grass. Many players find the slick, speedy surface onerous and capricious; for Federer, it's inviting and inspiring. He has won three consecutive championships at Wimbledon, with each earning him the honor of playing the first Centre Court match the following year. "It's very difficult to open the tournament in Wimbledon," Federer said. "It's maybe a privilege and an honor, but at the same time you can be the first guy out of the tournament. So it's a lot of pressure involved." Yet Federer makes it look easy He'll return to his favorite stage Monday, seeking to break the record of 41 consecutive grass-court victories he shares with Bjorn Borg. More important, Federer will commence his chase for another Wimbledon title. He's the odds-on favorite with British bookmakers, other players and past champions. "If he plays normal, nobody can beat him on grass," 2001 winner Goran Ivanisevic said. "I could see him not playing his best and winning," three- time champion John McEnroe said. "That's how much better he is on this surface." "Maybe Roger Federer is the only guy who can stop him," said James Blake, a title threat if the Swiss star somehow falters. "Because if he's playing well, I don't see any one of us stopping him. He needs to have a bad day, I think." Sharing the focus with Federer — at the start of the fortnight, at least — will be 1992 champion Andre Agassi, who announced Saturday that he'll be playing Wimbledon for the last time and will retire after the U.S. Open. Agassi's first match is Tuesday, and No. 2-seeded Rafael Nadal looms as a potential opponent in the third round. PETER BRENNEKEN / Associated Press Roger Federer returns the ball to Belgium's Olivier Rochus during their match June 16 at the ATP tennis tournament 2006 In Halle, Germany. Nadal won his second successive French Open title two weeks ago, spoiling Federer's bid for a fourth successive Grand Slam title. By losing the final, Federer fell to 04 against Nadal this year, while he's 49-0 against everyone else. But they've never met on grass, the surface where the 20- year-old Nadal is least comfortable. "He has a little bit of difficulty on grass," Federer said, "but maybe he hasn't had too many opportunities." Last year, after winning his first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, Nadal lost in the second round at Wimbledon. He did reach the Wimbledon semifinals in juniors in 2002, and unlike many players raised on clay he embraces the challenge of learning to win on grass. But although he's seeded second, he figures he needs to upgrade his serve and grass-court footwork before he'll be ready to contend for a title. "My special goal is in two, three, four years to have a chance to have a good result in Wimbledon," Nadal said. "I still have to improve some parts of my game." More likely to make it to the second weekend this year are two-time runner-up Andy Roddick, 2002 champion Lley- ton Hewitt and Mario Ancic, the last player to beat Federer at Wimbledon—four years ago. By contrast, the women's draw is wide open, with the three highest-seeded players seeking their first Wimbledon title. Seeded 1-2-3 are Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo, U.S. Open winner Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, who won her fifth major title at the French Open two weeks ago. Among the trio, only Henin-Hardenne has reached a Wimbledon final. She was runner-up in 2001 and needs a title at the All England Club to complete a career Grand Slam. "I'm dreaming of winning Wimbledon one day," she said. "It would be the cherry on the cake. We'll see what the future will say I have a few years ahead of me." The oddsmakers' favorite is 2004 champion Maria Shara- pova, seeded fourth. Three-time champion Venus Williams is seeded sixth, in part because injuries have limited her to 14 matches this year. Making Wimbledon comebacks following injury-enforced layoffs are former champions Agassi and Martina Hingis. Hingis won the tournament at 16 in 1997 but hasn't played in the event since a first-round loss hi 2001. Agassi, who won the first of his eight Grand Slain titles at Wimbledon, will make his first appearance at the All England Club since 2003. Now 36, he has battled chronic back trouble for years and has played only one match — a first- round loss last week at Queen's Club — since mid-March. "It's been a lot of sacrifices the last few months, trying to get myself right to come back here and enjoy this tournament for the last time," Agassi said. 'Canes agree to terms with Brind' Amour RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes have agreed to terms with Rod Brind' Amour for a new five-year contract worth $18 million, keeping the veteran captain with the franchise he led to the Stanley Cup. The new contract announced by the team Friday will pay him $4 million in each of the first three years Brind'Amour and $3 million in each of the last two seasons. It replaces an op- ti6h''thWt thte" i team arid ' ' Brind' Amour had for next season, the final year of a six-year extension he signed in September 2001. The team had an option to keep Brind'Amour for $5.32 million, while Brind'Amour had a player option of about $3 million. Now, the Hurricanes have locked up their do-everything leader until he is 40 years old. Brind'Amour, who will be 36 entering next season, finished his 17th regular season with 31 goals .and 39 assists. He ranked third in the NHL in faceoff percentage (59.1 percent) and led NHL forwards with an average of more than 24 minutes of ice time per game. He tied for eighth in the league with 19 power-play goals. He followed that by ranking second in the postseason with 12 goals, including two of the biggest in the team's history. On the first, he scored the go- ahead, third-period goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to help Carolina beat Buffalo. Winless Gordon looking for jump-start By MIKE HARRIS ASSOCIATED PRESS • Driver Standings 1 . Jlmmle Johnson, 2,295 2. Man Kenseth, 2,221 3, Kasey Kahna, 2,051 ' 4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 2,020 5. Mark Martin, 1,989 6. Tony Slewart, 1 ,928 ,7. Jeff Burton, 1,888 8. Kevin Harvlck, 1,849 "9. Denny Hamlln, 1,809 10. Greg Blffle, 1,807 11. Jeff Gordon. 1,796 12. Kyle Busch, 1,795 13, Cart Edwards, 1,722 14. Casey Mears, 1,654 15, Jamie McMurray, 1,624 16, Kurt Busch, 1,620 1 7, Ryan Newinan, 1 ,655 . 18. Clint Bowyer, 1,550 1 19; Dale Jarrett, 1,514 20. Reed Sorenson,' 1,508 Naxtthre* races . June 25 — Dodge/Saye Mart 350, Sonoma, QalH. ' ' ' ' July 1 — Pepsi 400, paytona Beagh, Fla. * -July 9 — USQ Sheetrock 400, Joilet, III. SONOMA, Calif. — Another road racing win would do Jeff Gordon a whole lot of good — and not just in the points. The four-time NASCAR champion Gordon would love to jump-start his winless season on one of the circuits he used to dominate. Gordon's season has been like the picturesque Infineon Raceway circuit he will race on Sunday in the Dodge/Save Mart 350: up and down. "A win would be great," Gordon said. "But what we really need is to start building some momentum." With no victories entering the 16th, rape of {he season for just the third time in his career, Gordon is " llth in the standings. He is 11 points behind lOth-place Greg Biffle and 13 behind ninth-place rookie Denny Hamlin. Behind him, five drivers are within 176 points of Gordon, including Kyle Busch, only one point behind his Hendrick Motor- sports teammate. The top 10 drivers in the standings — and any others within 400 points of the leader after the first 26 races — qualify for the 10-race Chase, now in its third year. Gordon missed it last year and does not want to do so again. "This is an important weekend for us," Gordon said. "But, as competitive as Nextel Cup is these days, all of them are equally important." Things didn't get off to the best start for Gordon, who was fastest in practice on Friday but llth in time trials after making a mistake and driving through the dirt on his qualifying lap. "It wasn't what we were hoping for," Gordon said, "but we'll be fine in the race. We just wanted to get through qualifying without making any big mistakes and, unfortunately, I just got off in the dirt a little bit and that was it." Not long ago, it was almost automatic for Gordon to win on one of the two Cup road courses. He leads all Cup drivers with eight victories on the tracks with both right and left hand turns. From August 1997 through DODGE/SAUE MART 350 2 P.M. FOX (HAYS CABLE 51 Race Lineup At Infineon Raceway (Car number In parentheses) 1. (2) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 93.065. 2. (26) Jamie McMurray, Ford, 92.948. 3. (29) Kevin Harvlck, Chevrolet, 92.889. 4. (12) Ryan Newman, Dodge, 92.812. 5. (60) Boris Said, Ford, 92.663. 6. (9) Kasay Kahne, Dodge, 92.495. •I, (16) Greg Blflle, Ford, 92.308. 8. (6) Mark Martin, Ford, 92.295. 9. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 92.226. 10. (01) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 92.158. 11. (24) Jefl Gordon, Chevrolet, 92.086. 12. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 92.076. 13. (31) Jefl Burton, Chevrolet, 92.027. 14. (7) Robby Gordon, Chevrolet, 92.025. 15. (4) P.J. Jones, Chevrolet, 92.020. 16. (48) Jlmrhle Johnson, Chevrolet, 91.893. 17. (32) Ron Fellows, Chevrolet, 91.859. 18. (21) Ken Sohratler, Ford, 91.837. 19. (5) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 91.821. 20. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 91.726. 21. (43) Bobby Labonte, Dodge, 91.684. 22. (68)'0ale Jarrett, Ford, 91.644. 23. (66) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, 91.685. 24. (38) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 91.559. 25. (10) Scon Rlggs, Dodge, 91.483. 26. (8) Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 91.445. 27. (40) Scott Pruett, Dodge, 91.382. 28. (07) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 91.381. 29. (14) Sterling Martin, Chevrolet, 91.308. 30. (27) Tom Hubert, Chevrolet, 91.265. 31. (72) David Gllliland, Dodge, 91.132. 32. (19) Jeremy Mayfleld, Dodge, 91.067. 33. (45) Kyle Petty, Dodge, 91.012. 34. (42) Casey Means, Dodge, 91.010. 35. (55) Michael Waltrlp. Dodge, 90.929. 36. (22) Dave Blaney, Dodge, 90.825. 37. (96) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 90.684. 38. (16) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, 90.306. 39. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 90.251. 40. (11) Denny Hamlln, Chevrolet, 90.186. 41. (41) Sorenson, Dodge, owner points. 42. (25) Vlokere, Chevrolet, owner points. 43. (02) Brandon Ash, Dodge, 90.715. June 2000 he won six straight. Gordon's record on the 1.99-mile, 10-turn Infineon course includes a series-leading four wins, eight top fives, nine top 10s and 393 laps led in 13 starts. He has led the most laps in the race at Sonoma six times, including 92 of 110 laps in 2004, his last win at the track. But Tony Stewart is now the driver to beat on the road courses. Stewart, a five-time winner, is the defending champion. "A lot can happen at Sonoma," said Stewart, who qualified 12th. "You've got to be patient all day You get a lot of cautions there and a lot of guys end up beating and banging on each other." Ben Curtis nears first win since 2003 British Open, leads pack at Booz Allen By JOSEPH WHITE ASSOCIATED PKESS POTOMAC, Md. — Winning the Booz Allen Classic, a tournament that might not even exist next year, could be as important to Ben Curtis as whining the British Open. With a five-stroke lead entering today's final round, he has his best chance yet to prove that his 2003 victory as a rookie at Royal St. George's was no fluke. "I wouldn't say it's more important," Curtis said, "but it's probably close to as important for me to go out there and prove that I can win again. There, for a while, I was having doubts, but I just kept working hard and fighting through the mess that I got myself into in my golf game. Now it seems to be going in the right direction." And, unlike his British Open win/Curtis won't be sneaking up on anybody this time. He's led from the opening day with rounds of 62,65 and 67, his launder score of 218 breaking the tournament record through 54 holes. Today, his biggest decision could he whether to sit on his lead by settling for pars or sticking with the aggressive iron play ftit helped build his "Guys are going to go out there and they are going to come firing after me," Curtis said, "so I'm going to have to keep making birdies." Curtis' nearest competitor is Brett Quigley, who shot a 67 to move to 14 under. 1996 champion Steve Strieker (66) and Sweden's Daniel Chopra (67) are tied for third, seven strokes off the lead. "It's not like I can shoot even par and have a chance," said Quigley, who has three Top 10 finishes this year in the quest for his first PGA Tour victory "There Is not a question of if I'm going to shoot under par. I need to shoot 5- under or better." While playing partners Jose Co- ceres (78) and Jeff Gove (71) fell apart early, Curtis rarely hit a wayward shot on another day of ideal conditions at the TPC at Avenel. Curtis was the only player in the field to hit every green in regulation — even after landing in a fairway bunker at No. 18—and picked up strokes with three consecutive birdies on the front nine and one more on the back nine hi a bogey-free round. Curtis said he hasn't had this much confidence since the year of his British Open title when became the first player in 90 years to win a major on his first try At the time, he was the beneficiary of a four-hole meltdown by Thomas Bjorn and never had to make a pressure putt at the 18th hole. MLB Roundup Saturday's interleague Red Sox 5, Phillies 3 (10 Innings) BOSTON (AP) — David Ortiz hit his seventh ra. reer walkoH homer alter Jonathan Papelbon pitcher) 2X Innings ol clulch reliel and the Boston Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in 10 innings Saturday. With one out and Alex Cora on first with a single. Ortiz hit a S-2 pitch from Tom Gordon (2-3) into the center-field bleachers and his teammates poured out ol the dugout. Papelbon waved a towel over his head at home plate as the excited players awaited Ortiz's arrival. Boston won its season-high eighth straight game as Ortiz produced a win this month lor the sef.- ond time on the last at-bat of the game Ha also d'd It in the opener of a doubleheader against Texas on June 11. Brett Myers started and went five innings for Philadelphia, one day after being arrpslRd and charged with hitting his wife in the face on a street near Fenway Park just alter midnight. He was fre«d after his wile posted $?00 bail and faces a court date of Aug. 4. Papelbon (2-1) gol Ihe Red Sox out ol two big jams and matched his longest outing of the year. White Sox 6, Astros 5 (10 Innings) CHICAGO (AP) — Joe Crede tied the g-iurn with a seventh-inning grand slam and Alex Cinlron singled home the winning run with the bases loaded in the 10th as the surging White Sox won their ninth straight victory. Rob Mackowiak led oil the bottom of Iho 10th with a double off Dan Wheeler (1 -5), plnch-hilter A ,1, Pierzynskl was walked Intentionally, Juan Uribe sacrificed and Scott Podsednik got another intentional walk \o load the bases. Cintron than lined a 1-0 pitch to right to give the White Sox their 10th win in 11 inlerteague games this season and second straight over the Astros, the team they swept in the World Series last year. Matt Thornton (3-1) pilched 2S innings of relipf for the win. Indians 4, Reds 0 CLEVELAND (AP) — Paul Byrd pitched oiglil shutout innings while Todd Hollandsworth and Grady Slzemore both homered to lead the Indians. Byrd (6-5) Improved to 2-3 in nine stalls since May 3 with his longest performance since signing with Cleveland as a free agent in December. The right-hander gave up five hits and struck out lour without issuing a walk, Bob Wickman worked a perfect ninth to complete the five-hitter as Cleveland won for only the second time in eight games — all in interteagua play. The Reds fell to 4-11 since June 9, but lost lor only the third time in their last 13 road games Hollandsworth put Cleveland ahead with a two- out, two-run homer in Ihe second inning oil Bronson Arroyo (9-4). Giants 8, Athletics 7 SAN FRANCISCO — Ray Durham hit a game- winning three-run homer onto the arcade atop Ihe right-field wall, and the San Francisco Giants overcame a live-run deficit to beat Oakland. Barry Bonds hit his 719th homer and an RBI double while reaching base five times, but Durham's unlikely homer capped Ihe Giants' rally against A's closer Huston Street (1-3), who blew his fifth save. For the second straight day, the Bay Bridge Series was decided by a ninth-inning rally. Oakland scored two runs Friday night in a 4-3 victory, but the Giants replied with their 16th come-lrom-behind win this season. Mark Sweeney led off the ninth will) a single, and Bonds drew his third walk of the day. Durham was O-for-4, but his high fly reached the elevated stands in right — and the sellout crowd celebrated the veteran second baseman's first career walk-oil homer. Twins 3, Cubs 0 MINNEAPOLIS — Bool Bonser threw 6 1-3 scoreless innings to overshadow Mark Prior's second start ol the season in Ihe Twins' victory over Ihe Cubs. Bonser (2-1) bounced back from two lackluster starts to outshine Prior, scattering six hits and striking out one with no walks. He left to a standing ovation in the seventh, and rookie Jason Kubel had two hits and an RBI for the surging Twins, who won lor the 13th time in 15 games. Joe Nathan pitched lha ninth for his 12th save in 13aHempts.. • r -- -..,,....,.-,.-. Prior (0-2) looked sharp early in nib,'Second game this season after missing the first 2!: months with shoulder problems, but he fndad in his linal 1 ', innings and got little help Irorn his offenso. Orioles 3, Nationals 2 BALTIMORE — Ramon Hernandez singled in the winning run with two outs in Ihe ninth, giving the Orioles a victory over the Nationals alter two rain delays totaling nearly three hours. The end came almost six hours after the first pitch, and only five minutes after play resumed following a stoppage of 2 hours, 18 minutes. Play was halted a second time with the Orioles ready to bat In the ninth. Whan the tarp was finally removed, Chad Cordero (2-3) walked Luis Matos. After a sacrifice and an intentional walk to Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada hit a fly ball to left. Hernandez then hit a liner between short and third, and Malos scored without a throw. By game's end, only a few hundred people were lett from the crowd ol 36,920. Devil Rays 3, Braves 2 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tim Corcoran threw solid five Innings in his first start ol the season and Rocco Baldelli had a run-scoring triple to help Tampa Bay beat Atlanta. Corcoran (1-0) gave up one run and lour hits for his first major league-win, coming in his second career start. He was inserted into the rotation after the Devil Rays optioned Seth McClung to Triple-A Durham Tuesday, a move designed to convert the right-hander from a starter to a closer. Baldelli's RBI triple made it 3-1 in the sixth, helping the Devil Rays improve to 9-2 in interleague play this season. Chad Harville pitched the tinal 1 2-3 innings loi his second career save. Lance Cormier (2-3) made his second start this season for the Braves, allowing three runs and 11 hits In 5% innings. Tigers 7, Cardinals 6 (10 innings) DETROIT — Placido Polanco's Iwo-out double In the 10th scored Curtis Granderson from first base and lifted the Detroit Tigers to a 7-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night. In (he ninth, Marcus Thames tied the game at Ball with a two-run homer off Jason Isiinghausen, who entered the game with a two-run lead. Granderson led off the ninth wilh an infield single, and attar Isringhausen struck out Polanco, Thames followed wilh a shot into the left-field seals that brought a roaring, sellout crowd of 42.535 to ils feet. With the fireci-up fans chanting, lei's go Tigers. 1 Magglio Ordonez hit a double and advanced lo third on a fryout, but Craig Monroe struck out — sending the game into extra Innings. Tyler Johnson (0-1) relieved Isringhausen with two ouls, then allowed Granderson lo roach on a walk. Polanco tallowed with a double to the right- center wall. 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